Congressman Gottheimer calls on NJ to work faster to increase access to high-speed internet | Regional

BLAIRSTOWN, N.J. – New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer says in 2022, not having fast internet is like not having water. He’s urging the state to act faster to get people in rural communities access to high-speed broadband.

“It takes an hour to watch an episode of Jeopardy,” said Gottheimer. “It’s supposed to be 30 minutes.”

“Zoom meetings were laughable,” said Blairstown Mayor Rob Moorhead. “Everyone was frozen.”

While the pandemic made the internet more of a necessity than a luxury, it’s still a big problem in parts of Warren County.

“We know what’s happening,” assured Moorhead. “We live with it too and we’re going to change it.”

“I’m asking the state to please take immediate action,” said Gottheimer.

Gottheimer wants New Jersey to start spending the millions of federal dollars he says the state has had for over a year to get people connected. He says the money is from the American Rescue Plan and a fund just dedicated to broadband.

“How can we expect the teacher to execute their curriculum that requires internet access, our students to do homework, if they actually just sit outside a McDonald’s or a public library to do their work at night?” Gottheimer said.

Warren County assures efforts are underway; it’s been working with New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities and the FCC for months on a new map that pinpoints un-served and under-served areas.

Commissioners have been talking with mayors about specific streets and neighborhoods. The county says it plans to start its own committee with local officials once the state opens financial floodgates.

Commissioner Lori Ciesla says the state’s newly formed Broadband Access Study Commission will be seated within months.

The Governor’s Office did not provide a comment.

“We’ve worked with a local vendor Planet Networks to bring one gig internet service to the Blairstown business district as well as our municipal buildings and our departments,” said Moorhead. “It’s our wish and goal that each and every home and business in our town and beyond will suit and benefit from the same quality of broadband service that the rest of the state has been accustomed to for years.”

“If we have the resources out the door, actually the connectivity is pretty fast,” said Gottheimer. “There’s hubs around these counties. You just bring the wire from those hubs to the homes and you’re rocking and rolling.”

Starting Thursday, schools can apply for grants from the FCC Emergency Connectivity Fund, so they could buy broadband equipment, like hotspots and routers.

“Counties across America are using these resources for broadband in their towns and we should be doing it here as well,” said Gottheimer.

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